Khuddaka Nikaya


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PSALMS OF THE BRETHREN

Canto I. Psalms of Single Verses


 

Canto I.
Psalms of Single Verses

I
Subhūti

Translated from the Pali by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids.

[idx][pali][than]

Public Domain

 

Reborn in the time of our Buddha at Sāvatthī, in the family of councillor Sumana, younger brother of Anatha-pinuika, he was named Subhūti.[1] Now on the day when the Jeta Grove, purchased by his uncle, was presented to the Exalted One, Subhūti was present, and when he heard the Norm, he found faith and left the world. Receiving ordination, he mastered the two categories (of Vinaya rules).[2] Thereafter a subject for exercise in meditation was given him to learn, and he went into the forest and practised it. Developing insight on the basis of love-jhāna,[3] he won arahantship. And he, teaching the Norm without distinctions or limitations, became chief among the brethren who cultivated universal amity. And because, while going round for alms, he fell, at house after house, [5] into love-jhāna, taking his alms when he emerged from reverie, this was judged to bring great reward to his almoners, and he became chief among them that were held worthy of gifts. Wherefore the Exalted One said: 'Subhūti, bhikkhus, is the chief of my bhikkhu-disciples in universal[4] amity, and chief among such as are held worthy of gifts.[5] ...

So this great Brother, travelling about the land for the good of the many, came in due course to Rājagaha. King Bimbisara heard of his coming, and went to salute him, bidding him, 'Here, your reverence, be pleased to dwell, and I will make you a dwelling-place.' But, going thence, he forgot. The Brother, receiving no shelter, meditated in the open air. And because of the Brother's dignity, the god rained not, so that the people were oppressed with the drought and raised a tumult at the door of the king's house. The king asked himself for what reason the god rained not, and judged it must be because the Brother was in the open. So he had a leaf-hut made for him, and saluted him, saying, 'Be pleased, lord, to dwell in this leaf-hut,' and so departed. The Brother entered, and seated himself cross-legged on the couch of hay. Then the rain began to drip drop by drop, not in a torrent. But the Brother, wishing to allay the people's fear of drought, declared the absence of any danger to himself from without, or from within, by uttering the verse:

[1] Well-roofed and pleasant is my little hut,
And screened from winds - Rain at thy will, thou god!
My heart is well composed, my heart is free,
And ardent is my mood. Now rain, god! rain.[6]

Thus verily did the venerable Brother Subhūti utter his Psalm.[7]

And the verse was his confession of Añña.

 


[1] In the days of Padumuttara Buddha, æons earlier, when this Thera was said to have made the resolve that determined the rest of his existence, he was named Nanda. The Chronicle here gives a brief account of the building of the Vihāra, the great college, in Jeta's Grove, by his uncle, as told more fully in the introduction to the Jātakas. See Rhys Davids, Buddhist Birth Stories, p. 130.

[2] See Vinaya Texts, i. '273 ; iii. 2, n. 'Norm' is 'Dhamma.'

[3] Rapt but ordered mentality, induced by some specified 'mode of self-hipnosis, and here concentrated on suffusing its objects with universal goodwill (Bud. Psy., 65 ff.; Vibhanga, 277).

[4] Anodissaka. See my review of Dr. A.C. Taylor's edition of the Paṭieambhidāmagga, JRAS, January, 1905.

[5] See Anguttara Nikāya, i. 24, where a number of brethren, sisters and the laity are formally recognized as excelling each in a specific attainment.

[6] Dhammapāla states that deva here refers to the spirit or deity of the thunder-cluud, Pajjunna, or Parjunya - idhāpi meghe Pajjunne vā daṭṭhabbo. Sutta-Nipāta, verse 18; Rhys Davids, American Lecturs, 167 ff.; Buddhist India, 336. [?] Cf. LI.-LIV., CLV.
The Commentary leaves the option of seeing in 'hut' a metaphor for the body. This being in good training through discipline, the 'heart' no less so through jhāna, and insight, through knowledge, the verse gives in miniature the end of the threefold sikkhā (training). See my Buddhism, chap. viii.; cf. below, LVII., etc.

[7] This affirmation is canonical matter, doubtless by the editors. The following sentence is the Commentator's. 'Añña' means gnosis or intuitive enlightenment, constituting the guarantee of Arahantship. Majjhima, i. 479; Saŋyutta, ii. 22.
We meet with Thera Subhūti elsewhere only in Udāna, vi. 7, where the Buddha commends his proficiency in meditation, and in Questions of King Milinda, ii, 315,323, where his verses (not found elsewhere) are quoted. See Appendix (below).

 


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